Crowds packed Whitby harbour and canons sounded to welcome the Endeavour back to its spiritual ‘home’.
The replica vessel has made the journey along the coast from Middlesbrough to its new base in town where it is set to form a popular visitor attraction.
While the Australian-built replica of the tall ship has visited Whitby on three separate occasions in 1997, 2002 and 2003, now the town has welcomed the only other life-size version in the world to its quayside.
The opening of The Endeavour Experience attraction in July will be all the more poignant as this year marks 250 years since Captain Cook, who began his sea-faring career in Whitby, set out on his epic first expedition to the Pacific in command of the Endeavour.
Owner Andrew Fiddler, who bought the ship at auction last autumn for £155,000 beating bids from Dubai, Portsmouth and London, said: “The ship was in a pretty poor shape when we purchased her, with rotting wood, worn fittings and spaces that didn’t do justice to the story. While we’ve retained and restored many of the features, we’re planning to bring the story to life in new ways.
“Rather than a museum the Endeavour will be an exciting and entertaining learning attraction that captures the imaginations of children and adults alike. It will be contemporary while blending in with the ship’s surroundings and will perfectly complement the existing Captain Cook landmarks and attractions in the area.”
Earlier today the 33-metre long ship embarked on its final voyage, leaving A&P Tees dry dock in Middlesbrough, where it has been extensively refurbished and repaired, to travel 40 miles down the North York Moors coastline to reach Whitby by the early evening.
In April the Endeavour’s eventful journey began from Stockton-on-Tees where the landlocked status of the vessel meant it had to be hoisted by crane five metres into the air to overcome the narrowness of the lock gates at the Tees Barrage.
Once berthed on Whitby’s quayside, the ship will undergo a further refit to transform it into a family-friendly attraction before opening on July 1 just ahead of the town’s Cook anniversary celebrations.
To complete the tall ship’s transformation, the owner, Whitby entrepreneur and ex-Naval officer Andrew Fiddler has appointed leading interpretation and graphic experts, Huddersfield-based Leach, whose previous commissions have included Titanic Belfast, Cutty Sark and World Museum Liverpool.
Through innovative graphic design, lighting and interactive features visitors will be transported back in time to life on-board the 18th century ship and learn just how Cook’s crew, numbering almost 100, coped during the three-year voyage including how they staved off scurvy and overcame boredom during those long days at sea.
The attraction will also enable visitors to learn more about the expedition’s scientific discoveries. For instance how the astronomical phenomenon of the Transit of Venus improved navigational accuracy, and the wealth of strange new botanical and animal species collected as the explorers charted the coast of New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia.
The North York Moors National Park has provided support through its Coastal Communities Fund project as well as a Local Distinctiveness & Tourism grant towards the attraction’s marketing and product development.
Catriona McLees, head of promotion and tourism for the National Park said: “The Endeavour will be a great addition that will help ignite visitors’ imaginations and invite them to be more like Captain Cook by embarking on their own exploration of the National Park’s coastline and moors.”
Scarborough Borough Council has given its full support to the tourist attraction establishing a new home in Whitby. The leader of the Council Cllr Derek Bastiman has worked very closely with Mr Fiddler from the outset when Mr Fiddler telephoned to say he had bought the Endeavour. The council’s harbour team has also worked very closely with Mr Fiddler to agree a suitable berth for the Endeavour and its tourism team are ensuring all opportunities to promote it, including the star role it will play in the Captain Cook Festival, are maximised.
Cllr Bastiman, said: “Andrew’s ambitious project to bring the Endeavour to Whitby and transform it into a first class visitor attraction has been a hugely exciting one to follow and one which we are very proud to be involved in. It will be a fantastic addition to Whitby’s tourism offer and we look forward to continuing to support Andrew and his team in the run up to the official opening this summer.”
The Endeavour Experience is due to open on July 1 just ahead of the Cook250 Festival Whitby which takes place July 6 to 8. More information on the Endeavour will be available over the coming weeks online: www.hmbarkendeavour.co.uk.